Understand What Your Spouse Is Not Saying

friendIf you’ve read my blog, you know I caution spouses about trying to read each other’s mind.

But then my wife took me away for a few days on a surprise trip to North Carolina. (That’s right! She made the plans, told me what to pack, and then said, “Drive.” It was wonderful! I owe her big time.) Any way, back to the story…



I came across this sign in a shop in Hendersonville, NC…


It stopped me in my tracks. I liked it so much my sweet wife bought it for me. (Or maybe she was trying to tell me something.)

There was something that felt right about this sign, but now I was confused. I’m always telling people, “Your spouse can’t read your mind.” But now I have this sign that seems to say just the opposite. Which is correct? If you can’t read your spouse’s mind, how can you understand what they’re not saying? (Confused yet? Me too.)

Perhaps you can understand what your spouse is not saying, without acting like you do. Maybe being truly married means you know your spouse so well you know what your spouse is not saying…but you never assume you know them that well.

After all, if you’ve been married for a while and you don’t know your spouse well enough to anticipate their thinking, you’re oblivious. And if you think you’ve been married long enough you don’t have to ask them what they’re thinking, you’re arrogant. Either way, you lose.

How do you get to this place where you know your spouse so well you understand what they’re not saying?  How long does it take to hit this stage of being “truly married?” It’s something that develops at different times for different marriages, but I can give you 3 keys that will help…

  • Age – I’m not talking about your age, or the age of your spouse. I’m talking about the age of your marriage. The longer you’ve been married, the easier it is to understand what your spouse is not saying.
  • Attention – Only 30% of what we communicate comes through our words. The other 70% comes through things like tone of voice, body language, facial expressions, and eye contact. If you really want to understand what your spouse is not saying, you have to pay attention to more than what they’re saying.
  • Asking – No matter how good you get at “reading” your spouse, the only sure way to know what’s going on is to ask. As we get older, we grow. We change. We go through different seasons and stages. You can’t assume that what you knew about your spouse last month is the same this month. Again, you may know your spouse so well you know what they’re thinking, but you should never assume you do. Ask!

So how are you doing in your marriage? When it comes to your spouse, do you understand what they’re not saying without being so confident that you don’t ask? If not, don’t be hard on yourself. Let you marriage age. Give you’re spouse your attention. Ask your spouse questions…even when you think you know the answers.

The more you do, the more you’ll understand what your spouse is not saying. (They may even buy you a sign.)

Can you think of some other signs of being “truly married?” If so, list them in the comments section.

Copyright © 2015 Bret Legg

4 thoughts on “Understand What Your Spouse Is Not Saying”

  1. Bret,

    Thank you for this wonderful post! After knowing each other for 10 years, we are only at the tip of the iceberg (we worked together for 7 and have been married 3). My husband says that everyday he feels we are becoming more “one”. We finish sentences, have a good idea of what the other would prefer and have even anticipated needs before they even have been said. This journey as just begun, but we are thankful for every day the Lord give us and pray for humility daily.

    God Bless and Be Encouraged,

    Laci Ortiz

    • Thanks for the good words. I love hearing stories like yours. Sounds like you and your husband have a great start on a good journey together. You might like another post called, “What’s a Good Marriage Look Like?” Just type the title into the search bar and it should come up. Thanks again for reading the blog and weighing in.

  2. You hit the nail on the head many times over. So here’s my reality. We’ve been married for 17 years and my spouse has many things “not spoken” that makes her upset. If I ask she about what is unspoken she becomes furious at not only the fact I asked but also because “I should not have to ask – I should know”… Then these things are still left unspoken. Needless to say she is angry at me pretty much all the time while I am completely clueless huddled over in the corner in the fetal position, putting on a helmet, tightening the chin strap, and praying with everything I got for the severe thunderstorm to pass and the sun to come back out. So, what does a husband do with that one?

    • That’s not an easy one. Know that there are many spouses out their that share your experience and your frustration.

      The idea that “if you really loved me you would know what’s wrong” can come from an unrealistic expectation that “true love” somehow gives you the ability to “just know” what’s going on with your spouse. There are spouses that hold on to that expectation for a long time.

      Sometimes that “if you really loved me you would know what’s wrong” is the expression of an old hurt or wound that still hasn’t healed. That wound may have been inflicted by you, or by someone else in their life, but it’s still sensitive and they’re expressing that.

      But sometimes the idea that “if you really loved me you would know what’s wrong” can come from a frustration with a spouse that’s not really paying attention, despited the clues being sent. Some examples: You come home and your spouse is telling you what a terrible day they’ve had with the kids and how they weren’t able to get anything done that day. You listen quietly and then say, “Well, what’s for dinner?” Or your spouse is expressing to you that they don’t like the way they look, how their clothes don’t fit, etc. and your response is, “Yeah, we’re all getting older.

      You can’t directly change a person’s expectations. All you can do is to repeatedly and lovingly affirm your love, assure them you’re trying, and remind them that the two of you are different so you need some help once in while to better know what’s going on inside of them. You can apologize if you’ve hurt your spouse and live in such a way as to show them you’ve changed, but you can’t for them to forgive and move on…whether you inflicted the pain or someone else did. You can do something about the “not paying attention” piece. Make it your goal to be a careful student of your spouse…their expressions, their moods, their triggers, their insecurities, etc. You won’t always get it right. Sometimes you’ll feel like The Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon Cooper asking if what he just heard was sarcasm…because he just can’t tell. But you’ll get better at it.

      Just keep assuring them that you love them…no matter how they respond. Just keep showing them you’re trying…no matter how they respond. Just keep asking questions that let them know you want to know their thoughts and their heart…no matter how they respond. Just keep reaching out to them…no matter how they respond. This is what Christ does for us…no matter how we respond. This is one great way to be Christ to your spouse.


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